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Episode 2 – Planning Your QMS

Planning you QMS Podcast

Planning Your QMS

In this week’s podcast, Suzanne Weber-Smatko, Manager of Consulting Services here at Core Business Solutions, will guide us on how to start planning your QMS. Suzanne discusses the creation of a quality manual, the importance of using the PDCA cycle when beginning the process of planning, and the importance of maintaining documentation.

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Episode 2 Key Content

Today’s show is entitled Planning Your Quality Management System. And we’re going to talk about some of the steps that will help you get your QMS rolling. But first off, let’s learn a little bit more about our guests. Suzanne, can you tell us more about yourself?

Absolutely. I’ve been in well, I’ve been in quality for a long time. A little over 30 years. I’ve probably held every role that you can think of in quality from quality clerk to technician, to engineer, to supervisor, to manager, to right up and including a senior leadership role of corporate quality director. My background is mostly in aerospace for quality systems, but I have a background in supplier performance excellence.

So it’s been a long journey and it’s been a fun journey. I started with quality. I knew that I was going to be interested in quality because luckily I was surrounded by team members who saw the value in a quality management system. So that’s what got me interested in it because I was able to see the value that quality management, a good quality management system can bring to an organization.

And throughout my career of 30 years, you can imagine I’ve seen a lot of different organizations, and not everybody kind of gets that. But it’s nice to be able to educate people and bring companies to the level of understanding of what the value can bring for a company.

So it’s been a, really, really good journey so far.

I’ve certainly seen your passion in that, in our experiences here, at Core Business Solutions you are very passionate about what you do.

Well, you know, that’s what I like about my job, right? I like being able to you know, sometimes you get a lot of pushback, leadership teams or a management or even just regular team members sometimes don’t see that value. You know, that’s a struggle that everyone has every single day. Right. Is right is try to get people to understand the value of that.

So that’s why I love what I do. I mean, I love being able to teach people the value of a management system and not just having a certification and being able to sustain it. So it’s been a, really, really good journey so far.

I’ve certainly seen your passion in that, in our experiences here, at Core Business Solutions you are very passionate about what you do.

Well, that’s great. And we’re really glad that you’re here today to help us talk through some of these. They might be a little bit of starting principles or the quality management system, but with your experience, I’m sure we are going to get quite a bit of knowledge there. So to get us started, what are some of the main steps to begin planning a quality management system?

Well, I think it’s, you know, it’s around most people understand it as plan do check acts and I’ll get into PDCA.

PDCA yes that is in case people didn’t know the wonderful acronym.

Oh, there are lots of acronyms, right?

Oh my goodness. Yes. It’s just so many.

Absolutely. Absolutely. And I can break that down a little bit for you. From my perspective, I think it’s defining and understanding what your customers and interested parties require of you. So understanding requirements. And then you would structure your quality management system in terms of defining some foundational documentation and planning what that quality management system looks like.

So putting that structure in place.

Yeah, putting the structure in place. And then part of that is, is defining what you can measure because we know and you may hear me say this again, if we’re not measuring it, we’re not managing it very well.

That’s a really good way to put it because if you’re not if you’re not paying attention, you don’t know what’s going on.

Exactly. Exactly. And, you know, there’s lots of people that go home every night and think, well, gee, is what can I do better? Or they can’t sleep because something’s bothering the organization. Well, my recommendation is always we’ll find a way to measure it. And then once you have a baseline of where you’re at, you can start identifying ways to improve it.

Yeah. You have to have the data to make some kind of decision.

Absolutely. And that would bring up the next point, right, is that it makes you or allows you to make data-driven decisions so that it’s not non-value-added work if you know what I mean.

Right, right, right. You’re paying attention to what is there and moving forward in some manner or maybe it’s a different direction. The data might point, Hey, we need to focus or something else or the data might go in. Hey, we’re right on point.

Absolutely. Absolutely.

We hear or do quality manuals. Can you explain why we chose to go that route and what benefit you might get by developing one?

It’s documenting a framework of your quality system, along with the requirements. It’s always better to have a high-level document that is going to build that framework of what your approach is going to be so that you can provide that to a customer, a supplier, an external auditor, and most importantly to your team so that they understand at a higher level what your requirements are and how you make an approach to meet a certain requirement.

Well, and that’s one thing that’s nice about quality management systems, especially in ninth place, when you kind of define how you want to do it, right?


You’re putting it together on your own based on your principles, and your own needs as a company.

That’s correct. Your approach and what you’re putting into your documentation have to reflect what it is that your business is doing. No one can tell you how you’re going to do something. It’s how you do business. You take your own approach to doing it. It’s your way of documenting how you’re taking your approach.

And that’s important because not every business is the same and you want to develop based on your principles, on your goals, on your desires, and on how you want your business to focus and run. Absolutely. That defines what you are and makes you special. And if the quality manager system is going to tell you how to do it, may take some of that out.

In this case, it gives you a framework to look at your process and how you.

Want to do it right? And for those who have a quality experience, you know that quality systems, like you document what it is that you’re doing, right? Do what you say you’re doing. So that quality manual gives you that high level of approach of how you’re going to do things and how you’re going to meet those requirements of whatever standard you’re going to work to.

Makes total sense. Now, a company also needs to develop some quality objectives. What are those quality objectives and how might they benefit a business once they put them in place?

Quality objectives are specific, measurable goals that a company sets to improve its quality management system. Again, if you’re not measuring something, you’re not managing it properly. Everybody’s quality objectives are different. They’re typically derived in line with some type of strategic objective of the company.

I was just about to say were they measuring those to know what they were looking at?

So now they had absolutely no idea. There were multiple sites that I had managed at the time. So we made a standard way of collecting the scrap data, collecting the rework data, and collecting the warranty claim data. They didn’t have the numbers until they put it together, and it was well over $2 million a year.

Wow. And that’s you know, that’s a lot of money.

That’s correct. So that’s correct. So what we did was we set up quality objectives to measure all three of those scrap rework and product defects or warranty claims. We started measuring them. And then once we saw where we were at each one of the respective sites, we started, you know, talking about action items to take on what we can do to eliminate scrap.

You know, that’s just amazing what people aren’t paying attention to. I know that in a previous podcast, a different Suzanne Strasser mentioned that sometimes when people get into this, it’s just controlled chaos and they’re not measuring anything. They don’t know what’s what. They’re just looking at the bottom line and don’t know how to, you know, why aren’t we profitable or why are we struggling?


And once you start measuring things and putting them in a framework and then making objectives based on that information, it’s probably harder not to get some kind of result than it would be in not doing anything at all, which so many companies are doing to start with.

Yes. Yes. I mean, my background is in quality and manufacturing operations. And you would be surprised how many people don’t measure things. But what gets people’s attention is what hits your bottom line. And they don’t realize that poor quality or not having a quality management system or measuring something, how much it is affecting their bottom line.

They think it’s small numbers, but, you know, when you put it all together, it can add up pretty quickly. So, yeah.

Well, we talked about, you know, measuring things. There used to be more than 9001 passed documentation and you talked about it a little bit. Apart from just writing things down and knowing the data, what are some other benefits of documentation that we see by using a QMS?

Well, I think documentation, you know, defines the expectations of an organization. I’ll give you an example. You know, in the manufacturing world, you know, everybody wants to blame the operator when something goes wrong on a shop floor. If you dig into the root cause of why things go wrong, it’s not like people show up every day and want to do a bad job.

Right. What you often find is when you do an effective root cause and corrective action, a company didn’t define work instructions well enough to make this employee successful. So what I would say is documentation. It defines the expectations of the job.

Well, I mean, you know, that’s kind of probably help with morale.

There’s no doubt. I mean, in my experience, what I’ve learned is that the people that are on the shop floor, if you’re in a manufacturing facility, are the actual people that are delivering a service or doing the work are the ones that can build the best work instructions because they’re the ones that are making the company whole and making the product or delivering the service.

So getting them involved in some of this documentation and process writing and things like that is beneficial.

Absolutely. It’s 100% the best way to get employees engaged in your quality management system.

And to get some buy-in, too. I mean, you know, if you’re part of the process of designing how something is being done, you’re going to take some ownership into it because you had some say in it.